ARLINGTON, Va. – Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Beth King was used to flying as a former Chinook helicopter maintainer and crew chief. Her flying came to an end on July 25, 2011 when her helicopter was hit with a rocket propelled grenade in Regional Command East Afghanistan while trying to land.
“I was four feet from the blast in which I sustained a traumatic brain injury, injuries to my jaw and spine, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
The married mother of one son did not want to leave her house and struggled to feel whole again as she recovered from the blast. “I felt very much like I was just an empty shell physically, as well as emotionally. I was very depressed and really struggled with the ‘why’ of it,” said King.
Finally, after denying the idea for a time, King began participating in adaptive sports.
“What is the point of a life on the sidelines when I have always been in the middle of it all,” King recalled asking herself. “My occupational therapist told me I should try out cycling. In my mind, I was sure I couldn’t do it, but figured I would just appease her and try it.”
King is now the queen of adaptive cycling. She has come a long way in a short time, overcoming many things including her own self-doubt.
“At first it was a battle. I had spent years not being active, but the more I got out, the more I pedaled, and the more I could see there was a way out of the darkness,” King said. “I was not as worthless as I had been feeling. Slowly I began to go further, and then I started getting faster. I made it to my goal to do the Tour de El Paso, 50 miles!”
She completed the Tour de El Paso and followed it up by riding from San Antonio to Fort Worth, Texas in six days and joining the Texas
Challenge bike ride.
Because of her new found love of cycling, King will compete at the 2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas 5 – 16 March in hopes of
garnering a spot on Team Army for the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Tampa, Florida in June.
“I went from feeling isolated and alone, unable to connect with anyone to being able to talk with and connect with people,” King said. “I went from feeling there was no point in life or in continuing to breathe to being excited to be here, if only to prove I can do anything I put my mind to. The word ‘can’t’ is now the fuel for my fire.”
King will compete in cycling, air rifle and rowing at the 2019 Army Trials. She wants to be a member of Team Army, but she also wants to be a positive influence to others.
“I want to share my passion for adaptive cycling. If only one person sees me out there competing and is inspired to get outside and ride, then I feel like I have made a difference.”
Author: MaryTherese Griffin – Warrior Care and Transition